Skip to main content

Full text of "Mind's Eye Fall/Winter 1981"

See other formats


The Mind's Eye 



Fall/Winter 1981 
Volume 6 Number 1/2 

EDITORIAL BOARD 

Robert Bishoff 

NORTH ADAMS STATE COLLEGE w Anthony GengareMy 

Stephen A. Green 
R. Michael Haines 

_ Charles Mclsaac 

The Mind s Eye is a journal of review and comment EWen Schiff 

published four times during the college year 

at North Adams, Massachusetts 01247 EDITOR 

Copyright © 1981 by North Adams Stats College Charles Mclsaac 

ASSOCIATE EDITOR 

W. Anthony Gengarelly 



Maynard Seider 4 When the Informer Starred in Hollywood 

The motives of Hollywood figures who gave testimony to the 
House Un-American Activities Committee; review of Victor 
Navasky's Naming Names, 

Meera Clark 7 Images of Women and the Idea of Perfection 

The model of physical beauty held up to women is a snare and a 
delusion. Based on the portrayal of women in four films. 



VERSE 

Miriam Leader 9 Waiting for the Trolley 



FILMS 

Robert Bishoff 12 Through a Lens Distortedly: The Personal Nature of the Movies 

Like poems, the movies tell their story through images, and the 
viewer decides. 



COMMENT 



Charles Mclsaac 2 The Editor's File 

Ronald Reagan's America 
The mind of the president. 



The Editor's File 



Ronald Reagan's America 



Although the president's recent nuclear arms 
policy speech signalled a welcome turn toward 
realism in international relations, one still 
has to think that Ronald Reagan's view of the world 
was permanently affected by the simplicities of the 
B-movies in which he used to make his living. Last 
May Mr. Reagan addressed the University of Notre 
Dame commencement, an occasion which four of his 
predecessors have used for major policy statements. 
At the outset of his speech the president — whose 
domestic policies were already well known and who 
is widely perceived to have no foreign policy except 
cold war anlicammunism — eschewed any intention 
of following previous custom because it would be an 
intrusion on the spirit of the day. He then proceeded 
in his notably amiable manner to strain credulity 
with a series of loosely connected thoughts ranging 
from the mythology of Notre, Dame football to the 
ultimate fate of the Soviet Union. His disclaimer 
notwithstanding, the ideas he set forth must be taken 
as the conceptual building blocks of his national 
agenda. Some extracts follow. 

This nation was born when a little band of men we 
call the founding fathers. . . brought to all mankind 
(or the first time the concept that man was born free. 

It is as if the American polity sprang full-blown 
out of nothing. Could they speak now, how would 
the Greeks, the great medieval thinkers, and the phi- 
losophers of the Etilightment respond? They would 
indulge, we hope, the peculiarly American exagger- 
ation. 

It ever the great independent colleges and universities 
like Notre Dame give way to and are replaced by tax- 
supported institutions, the struggle to preserve aca- 
demic freedom will have been lost. 

Mixing courtesy toward his hosts with a political 
statement, the president falls into a pit. Every one of 
the fifty states has public universities and colleges 
which have made unique contributions to the na- 
tional well-being and whose devotion to the cause of 
academic freedom has been in the authentic tradition 
of independent scholarship. Mr. Reagan, in his zeal 
to boost private initiative at the expense of big gov- 
ernment, "forgets" that the land-grant institutions 
are one of the great achievements of American gov- 
ernment. 

For too long, government has been fixing things that 
aren't broken and inventing miracle cures for which 
there are no known diseases. 



Thus does the president support his war on exces- 
sive government regulation. Does he pretend that the 
structure of society is solid and needs no adjustment? 
The answer is indirect: whatever is wrong will be 
remedied by the release of market forces. If you are 
poor or black or female, if you stand for clean air and 
pure water, if in your job you run the risk of black 
lung or browm lung disease, this is bad news for you. 
But if you are cruising high in the system, Reagan- 
omics assures you a smoother ride. 

As for miracle cures for unknown diseases, one can 
only say that this extravagant statement masks the 
unfinished state of U.S. public health policy. 

The West will not contain communism, it will tran- 
scend communism. We will not bother to denounce 
it, we'll dismiss it as a sad, bizarre chapter in human 
history whose last pages are even now being written. 

How airily he waves aside the most consequential 
sociopolitical reality of the century. Without clear 
basis in fact, the assertion has the ring of provocation, 
What the community of nations needs is accommoda- 
tion between the superpowers, not the careless bel- 
ligerence which has provoked grave fears throughout 
the world. 

For the West, for America, the lime has come to dare 
to show the world that our civilized ideas, our tradi- 
tions, our values are not — like the ideology and war 
machine of totalitarian societies — a facade of strength. 
It is time the world knew that our intellectual and 
spiritual values are rooted in the source of all real 
strength — a belief in a supreme being, a law higher 
than our own. 

Perhaps the president had in mind the Massachu- 
setts Bay Colony and its Puritan theocracy, a social 
model separated by two and a half centuries of 
thought from the ideas of Jefferson, Franklin, and 
their illustrious company. The work of the founders 
was based on the concepts of the Enlightenment, 
which — save the mark — was a rationalist, humanist 
philosophy. Religion had as little to do with the 
formulation of the democratic principles of the Amer- 
ican nation as it did with inspiring the lives of some 
of the principal actors in that great drama. Its influ- 
ence since that lime has waxed and waned with 
popular feeling. After the Second World War (during 
which no atheists had been found in foxholes) there 
was a great resurgence of faith, and much was made 
of the fact that the likes of George Washington had 



2 



spoken of the importance of religion and morality as 
the supports of political prosperity and civic virtue. 
But postwar religion was a passing phenomenon and 
America turned rather quickly into a consumer society 
whose emblems are more typically the bowling alley, 
the television set, and the six-pack than church on 
Sunday. 

Bandying words like "facade of strength," Mr. Rea- 
gan appears to underestimate the adversary. Does he 
remember Stalingrad? Vietnam? Korea? 

Did a generation steeled by a hard war and a harsh 
peace forsake honor at the moment of a great climac- 
tic struggle for the human spirit? 

What harsh peace were the people of this country 
forced to endure? This is as puzzling now as when 
John F. Kennedy mentioned it in his inaugural ad- 
dress. For Americans the result of victory in 1945 was 
unprecedented prosperity. 

The great climactic struggle is presumably that be- 
tween democracy and communism. Were we not told 
a few paragraphs back that communism is turning 
the last pages of its bizarre history — as though any 
time now it will self-destruct? 

The world will soon know and history someday 
record that in its third century the American nation 
came of age — affirming its leadership of free men and 
women — serving selflessly a vision of man with God, 
government for people, and humanity at peace. 

Such ritualistic presidential intonements have a ten- 
uous relation to reality. There is precious little opera- 
tive vision of man with God in this land. Traditional 
religion is in a period of quiescence. The extremism 
of born-again fundamentalism, for all its electronic 
razzle-dazzle, departs too far from the norm of every- 
day experience. In talking about God and America- 
something they all seem compelled to do — presidents 
customarily ignore the pluralism and hedonism of 
American society. Mr. Reagan is aware that the nation 
needs to find its soul, but he busies himself building 
an image, 

Government for people. The Reagan budget's trans- 
fer of wealth to the wealthy makes this a cruel joke, 

Humanity at peace. Ol all the historic delusions 
man has visited upon himself, the greatest may be 
peace, ft was said of the Romans that they "make a 
solitude and call it peace." "The peace of God" is an 
Arabic phrase; it is, we suppose, what was recently 
bestowed on Anwar Sadat. "We had to destroy the 
village 10 save it," explained the American major in 
Vietnam. The long Pax Britannica was bought with 
blood, the short-lived Pax Americana with the bad 
seed of the atom. 

War and repression across the globe in South Asia, 
the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America mock the 
notion of humanity at peace. Worse, the great north- 
ern powers, locked in serious tensions among them 



selves, contribute adventurously to the spreading cha- 
os in the southern half of the world, where most of 
the people are. The annual production of Jt800,000, 
000,000 in armament is ample evidence that we are 
embattled beyond any hope of peace unless a new 
vision of human affairs is somehow evolved. 

Mr. Reagan and his comfortable circle dwell in a 
milieu of nostalgic capitalist privilege. One need not 
have any special brand of ideology to know that their 
vision is antique. Rather than coming of age under 
their guiding hands, America is more likely to reex- 
perience painful adolescence. Nor will it sucessfully 
affirm leadership of "free" men and women when it 
has set out to return so many of its own people to 
economic bondage. 

With these strictures some will agree, others will 
not. Whatever view one takes, it is of great 
importance to put the Reagan presidency into per- 
spective. It is foolhardy to deny that historic forces 
have lodged Mr. Reagan in the White House, for his 
presence there is no accident. The prevailing triumph 
of conservatism is traceable to a genuine loss of 
consensus; we have fallen out with one another and 
are no longer in basic agreement on how to manage 
society. The signs are incontestable: the decline of 
political parties, of labor unions, of religion and 
traditional mores; the ruin of economies and the 
confusion of economics; the flight of the liberals; the 
immobility of education; the backlash against social 
justice; the counterattack on environmental controls; 
the growth of militarism, the dilution of foreign 
policy, and the enfeeblement of diplomacy. 

The question is whether Mr. Reagair can forge a 
new consensus out of a fundamental disarray. On the 
record of what he told the class of 1981— and of 
anything he has said since — the answer is no. His 
perception of the situation is ominously narrow; his 
remedy for our problems is old wine in new bottles. 

The emergence of consensus will, in any event, 
take more time than is allotted to a single presidential 
administration. We can hope that in the interim 
nothing irreparable happens — to be specific, that we 
do not stumble into a nuclear war. We hear admin- 
istration voices saying that nuclear war is winnable 
and survivable. To know that such calculations go 
on at the highest levels of government is profoundly 
alarming. We must trust that the world's ability to set 
off the big flash that means the end of civilization 
will give pause even to the reckless. It will take 
radical reappraisal, foi although the nuclear bomb 
has been around for quile a while now, it remains the 
only new thing under the sun and, as Einstein said, it 
has changed everything except the way men think. 

— Charles Mchaac 



The Mind's Eye invites reader*' responses to the views expressed in 
this editorial. 



3 



Going with the Tide 



When the Informer Starred in Hollywood 

by Maynard Seider 



Naming Names, by Victor S. Navasky. Viking Press, 
482 pp., $15.95 



It was not the best of times, 1947 in cold war 
America. The House Committee on Un-American 
Activities (HUAC) opened hearings in Washing- 
ton on the "red menace" in the movie industry. 
Executive Order 9835 forced government employees 
to sign loyalty oaths. The Taft-Hartley Act was in the 
process of annihilating unions whose officers refused 
to sign non-Communist affidavits. Within a year 
Whit taker Chambers would be accusing Alger Hiss of 
espionage, and a young congressman from California, 
Richard Nixon, would be building a national reputa- 
tion as a Commie hunter. Our finest Hollywood 
treasure, the "little tramp," Charlie Chaplin, would 
soon be exiled from America. And in 1951 the state 
would convict Julius and Ethel Rosenberg on charges 
of passing A-bomb secrets to the Russians. Two years 
later they were executed. 

Naming Names is not simply another study of 
what most of us have come to call McCarthyism.* It 
is as Victor Navasky suggests, a morality play, an 
attempt to uncover the reasons why good people turn 
informer. HUAC vs. Hollywood offers as good an 
opportunity as any to uncover that mystery. 

The author, editor of the radical weekly. The 
Nation, has interviewed more than 160 veterans of 
those times, adding immeasurably to our understand- 
ing of the participants. Navasky has also utilized 
studies of the history, politics, and art of that era. 
Finally, he has judiciously and intelligently delved 
into the sociological and psychological literature on 
conformity and obedience. The result stands as a 
most important contribution to the social psychology 
of the informer. 

•Perhaps it's our penchant for personalizing an era, bin naming i! 
after the junior senator from Wisconsin perpetuates several histor- 
ical inaccuracies: first, systematic anti-Communist attacks from the 
government during this general period began well before McCarthy 
reached the Senate; second, if any individual deserves to "surname" 
this era, it should be President Truman, a fierce anti-Communist 
and the originator of the federal loyally oaths; finally, deep-rooted 
strands in American culture and insiilurions enrourage periodic 
witch hunts, and while an outspoken politician may grab the 
media attention, he should be viewed as more symptom than cause 
of the phenomenon. Navasky understands this well and makes a 
singular contribution by exploring the social and cultural networks 
of the Hollywood community. In fact, the only ihing lhat keeps 
me from calling his book a superior piece of sociology is Navasky's 
proud confession at a 1981 Eastern Sociological Society panel 
discussion thai he was not a sociologist and preferred not to be 
accused of being one; "1 am not now nor have 1 ever been, . ." 



What was HUAC up to? Although the ostensible 
purpose of a congressional committee is to gath- 
er information for needed legislation, HUAC submit- 
ted no legislative proposals to the House. It simply 
called witnesses and asked them about their political 
activities, past and present., and about the activities of 
others. The committee wanted more than a confes- 
sion — it wanted names. It wanted Communists (pre- 
sent and former), "fellow travelers," and even those 
who refused to denounce Communists. The Com- 
munist party in the United States had been a very 
active and potent force in the civil rights struggles 
and labor battles of the 1930s and 1940s, and ils 
presence in the Hollywood guilds was no secret. 
Now, with the cold war and anti-Stalinist sentiment 
raging, the committee called on suspects to disavow 
their past, admit their mistakes, and finger their 
colleagues. When the first group of witnesses, the 
Hollywood Ten, refused to answer the committee's 
classic question — "Are you now or have you ever 
been a member of she Communist party?" — they were 
sent to jail for terms of up to a year. 

Time went on and fears escalated as more witnesses 
were called. Those summoned before the committee 
had three choices: (1) like the Hollywood Ten, they 
could refuse to answer any questions by invoking 
their First Amendment rights of free speech and 
association; this avenue earned them a contempt cita- 
tion, prison, and a place on the blacklist; (2) they 
could refuse to answer questions on Fifth Amendment 
grounds (privilege against self-incrimination) and es- 
cape prison but not the blacklist; or (3) they could 
cooperate with the committee, name names, and con- 
tinue working. One-third of the Hollywood witnesses 
chose the last option. The became informers. How is 
it that so many went along, and with what conse- 
quences? 

Some, a minority, cooperated on principle. They 
believed that their previous Party membership was a 
mistake and that Communists were a dangerous force 
to be hunted out and punished. However, most were 
ambivalent on these issues and had no easy answers 
for dealing with the committee. Naming names, in- 
forming on one's friends and associates, was not a 
first choice. Navasky suggests two major reasons why 
many in this group finally decided to answer the 
committee's questions. 



4 



Support for noncooperation from major civil liber- 
tarian groups had virtually dried up. These organiza- 
tions, traditional defenders of the First Amendment 
for all Americans, decided that Communists didn't 
deserve that protection. They refused to make the 
committee's actions a free speech issue. Then, too, 
the Hollywood subculture — friends, job associates, 
the guilds, lawyers, and others — strongly urged coop- 
eration with the committee. Thus, the push from 
within was to go along, and the countervailing force 
from without had dissipated. 

One could sense the direction that the liberal 
organizations would take as far back as 1940 
when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) 
forced Elizabeth Gurley Flynn oft its board because 
she belonged to the Communist party. ACLU politi- 
cal positions became increasingly conservative, and it 
entered a free speech legal battle for a 
Communist only with great reluctance. 
Even more publicly anti-Communist 
than the ACLU were the Americans 
for Democratic Action (ADA), started 
in 1947 by liberals such as historian 
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., theologian 
Reinhold Niebuhr, columnist James 
Wechsler, and Hubert Humphrey, 
then mayor of Minneapolis. ADA's 
strategy called for a shoring up of the "vital center" 
(a term borrowed from the title of a book by Schle- 
singer}. To do so, the organization criticized the right 
but more vehemently attacked the Communist party, 
even calling for the prosecution of its members. 

The concern of the ACLU ; and ADA, and a third 
liberal organization, the American Committee for 
Cultural Freedom, was not so much that HUAC vio- 
lated constitutional procedures, but that in its hunt for 
subversives, it might make mistakes — i.e., pick up a few 
liberals along with the Communists. Thus they had no 
quarrel with the premise of HUAC or of the Senate 
Internal Security Subcommittee. They simply wanted 
the committees to do their work well and to be accurate. 

Who could those called to the committee turn to? 
One thinks of one's friends, neighbors, and col- 
leagues — one's community. But the community itself 
urged compliance for a variety of economic, psycho- 
logical, and social reasons: 

As ihc wilier Sylvia Richards recalled, her lawyer urged 
her to "cooperate"; her therapist made clear that sinre 
she had quit the Party, taking the Fifth Amendment 
would be a self-destructive if not suicidal act; and her 
boss, a former Communist for whom she felt respect 
and loyalty, had himself become an informer. And all 
of these people saw themselves as liberals. Add to such 
confidants talent agents who saw the failure to name 
names strictly as a career impediment; religious, politi- 
cal, and trade-union organizations that endorsed the 
naming of names as a way of distancing their member- 



ship from charges of Communism; and those majorities 
and minorities who simply found it easier to avoid the 
fi s\ than 10 risk personal or organizational injury. One 
then gets a sense of an informer subculture that was as 
real a presence in the community as the HUAC 
hearings that occasioned it. 

A lot of people grumbled, many groups wavered, but 
they went along, thus adding to the committee s legit- 
imacy. Martin Gang, a leading Hollywood lawyer at 
the time, revealed the sometimes tragicomic nature of 
such behavior in his account of the Committee on 
Communism in the Jewish Community, formed by an 
organization of California Jewish groups. Gang told 
Navasky why such a committee was needed: 

Because the FBI had passed around a list of institutions 
thai wouldn't get the preparedness plans if ihere were 
an atom bomb attack. The Mount Sinai Hospital was 
Jewish-sponsored, and we were lipped off by the FBI 
that they couldn't give the Mount 
Sinai Hospital ihedefense plans be 
cause there was a Communist on the 
staff. So we had to get a Conurultee 
on Communism. . . .And we. found 
out that a lady who was very promi- 
nent in the Parly was a mistress of 
one of the Mount Sinai directors, so 
the FB[ wouldn't give them the god- 
damn defense plans in case somebody 
dropped a nuclear bomb on L.A, 
Our job was to try to find out what the facts were, so 
thai the hospitals and other such institutions wouldn't 
get into trouble by running inro problems like that. It 
was self-defense in that lousy atmosphere. 

Within that "lousy" cultural atmosphere, Navasky 
zeroes in on the individuals who informed and those 
who resisted. Here he does some of his hest writing, 
particularly in Chapter 7, "Elia Kazan and theCase for 
Silence." He counterposes the careers of two best 
friends, director Kazan and playwright Arthur Miller, 
giants of the stage who worked together on All My Sons 
and Death of a Salesman. After Kazan named names in 
April of 1952, the friendship was over. They literally 
didn't talk to each other but, as Navasky ingeniously 
points out, !he two loudly continued the dialogue in 
their ensuing work. Kazan directed scripts whic.fr 
justified the informer (e.g., On the Waterfront) and 
Miller created works which condemned the sloolie 
(e.g., The Crucible and A View From the Bridge), 
Miller found himself blacklisted even before HUAC 
called him to testify in 1 956. During that appearance 
Miller's life followed his art. He refused to implicate 
anyone in Communist, activities. 

Kazan has never discussed his HUAC testimony in 
detail, implying that he will render a full explanation 
in the future. Although Navasky tries to be-fair-minded 
throughout, he grows impatient with Kazan: "His 
thesis— that in certain contexts to inform can be an act 
of honor, and that therefore it is simplistic to condemn 
all informers — sounds reasonable. But it begs theques- 




5 



tion of whether his own 'token' betrayal occurred in 
such a context." 

Others have not been so reticent. For those who still 
show the conflicts, tensions, and trauma that accomp- 
anied the informer decision over twenty-five years ago, 
Navasky brings a sense of sympathy, if not empathy. 
Consider Lee J. Cobb who became an informer in 1953 
after turning down the committee's entreaties for two 
years. The period of his resistance meant no work for 
this exceptional actor, and it also meant his wife's 
institutionalization for alcoholism. After Cobbtestifietf, 
he suffered a major heart attack. He later resumed 
work, but thememory of his cooperation wrenches him 
still: "I didn't act out of principle. 1 wallowed in 
unprincipledness. . . . If I had not been in need, I'd have 
never cooperated. By implication I did dignify the 
Committee." 

Navasky, determined to wring all the under- 
standing he possibly can from the Hollywood 
experience, moves from the journalistic world of in- 
terviews and examination of commit tee testimony to 
the more abstract universe of social science research. He 
examines the recent literature on conformity and 
obedience, including analysis of concentration camp 
behavior and the classic social psychological studies of 
Solomon Asch and Stanley Milgram. The studies 
generally detail the pressures to follow the dictates of 
those in power when the system (or experiment) is 
rigged to support the leader's prestige and authority. 
By analogy, Navasky argues that disobedience to the 
committee in the atmosphere of the 1940s and 1950s 
must have been very difficult. As the author concludes, 
"The H U AC experimen t worked because al mos t every- 
body played by the rules." 

Paradoxically, in nearly all cases the committee al- 
ready had the names of those former Communists 
whom the informers were pressured to reveal. In other 
words, the witnesses added no new information. Why- 
then did the committee demand it? To degrade the 
informer, to enact a ritual of con- 
fession so odious as to assure the 
Committee that the informants 
had indeed mended their ways and 
had come over to the other side. 

The degradation ceremonies 

functioned to confirm the validity ^^^4^^ 
of the state's political ideology: \ & \„ 
"The process of stigmatizing in- \~ J/?} 

dividuals as subversives, as agents ^^ s ^'ss^ J ! 
of a foreign power, as conspirators, 
as having rejected the American 
heritage, reassured middle Americans of their own 
patriotism. Americans have always defined themselves 
largely by what they are against: America is for 
Americans; go back to where you came from; the 
foreign, the different, ihestrange, the subversive should 



get out of town." As such, the ceremonies enabled the 
informers including many former Communists to see 
themselves as good, solid Americans. The ceremonies 
also served to fill an uncritical mass media's need for a 
steady diet of good theatre. In short, the "degradation 
ceremonies served the purposes of too many constitu- 
encies to be easily discarded." 

Individually, the victims of the committee lost their 
jobs, their freedom, and often their health. On a com- 
munity basis, the level of fear and distrust engendered 
by HUAC helped to destroy the formerly supportive 
Hollywood subculture. "Hollywood . . . was a unique 
company town whose inhabitants invested their ener- 
gies in and defined themselves by the community life. 
And when the sense of community died so did part of 
themselves," 

A curious tension runs through Naming Names, 
one which never gets resolved. While Navasky 
focuses on the causes of obedience to authority, two- 
thirds of the witnesses did in fact rebel. They refused to 
cooperate with the committee. Navasky certainly recog- 
nizes this. He aiso points out that the social psycho- 
logical studies he examines do not foreclose the possi- 
bility of rebellion. They show "that given models of 
courage, men* are inspired to resist. . . ." 

Navasky holds up the Lillian Hellmans, the Arthur 
Millers, and the Dalton Trumbos as moral examples of 
those who resisted. One suspects that he wants us to 
have such models available if (when?) the next witch 
hunt arrives. But models may not be enough. Despite 
the opposition of individuals, the HUACs and the Mc- 
Carthys really did win. They controlled the domestic 
and foreign agenda of the United States until the 1960s. 
The whole repressive apparatus, along with "the vital 
center," ultimately functioned to censor our writing, 
purge our work force, halt advances in civil rights, and 
strengthen the foundation of a militaristic foreign 
policy. Moral exemplars may keep a tradition of protest 
going, but victory or even a more closely fought battle 
needs more. It requires a rebuild- 
\| ing, nourishing, and strengihen- 
n )) ing of those very aspects of our 
Jj jj culture and institutions that fell 
^^J/ jj before HUAC. It needs a viable 
// alternative press, nonestablish- 

j ment lawyers, and avenues of sur- 

^5:^ jj vival that can't be squelched by a 

^ T\JI blacklist. That is a real if unspoken 

MJ lesson from Navasky's fine book. 

^*=&^$ ^<ris *Navaskv unfortunately uses generic male 

nouns and pronouns throughout [lie 
book. Ironically, m this particular case, liis very next sentence 
includes Lillian Hellmtin as one model of courage. 

Mayncird Seider is Assistant Projessor of Sociology. His 
book A Year in the Life of a Factory will be published by 
Singlejach Boohs. 



6 



Perfect is Not Excellent 



Images of Women and the Idea of Perfection 

by Meera Clark- 

e following is the text of a talk given to the Northern Berkshire Women's Network on August 13, 1981. 



I 

Mv talk today will consist of two parts, in 
the first part I will examine the images of 
women in four recent movies: two Ameri- 
can—^ Change of Seasons and The Four Seasons; 
two French movies — The Last Metro and / Sent a 
Letter to My Love. In the second and concluding 
section of my talk I will indulge in a freewheeling 
meditation on the philosophical implications of the 
images of women in contemporary society which, I 
believe, the movies both reflect and create. 

At the very outset I want to make it clear thai my 
aim is not a comprehensive "movie criticism" but 
merely an examination of the images of women and 
of the ideas implicit in these images. That is, I am 
interested in the sociological implications of what 
these movies say about women. Obviously, I am 
making a major assumption when I focus on the 
sociological content of these movies— that movies, 
particularly the so-called realistic ones, both reflect 
and create social reality. 

Movies have taken the place that novels occupied 
in the eighteenth century: they are an immensely 
popular art form available to the rich and the poor 
and therefore instrumental in both creating and re- 
flecting public tastes, attitudes, and trends. It is my 
contention that contemporary American movies, in 
general (there are always exceptions of course), por- 
tray younger women as physically perfect, mentally 
deficient, and emotionally vacuous and older women 
as idle, bitchy, and trying to hang on to their youth 
by their long red fingernails. Both younger and older 
women in our society as well as in our movies are 
tyrannized by an ideal of perfection, especially by 
that of physical perfection imposed quite arbitrarily 
by an increasingly mechanized media. 

For those of you who have not seen the movies I 
am going to talk about, I'd like to explain the 
plots briefly. A Change of Seasons', starring Shirley 
MacLaine, Bo Derek, and Anthony Hopkins, is about 
the wife of a college professor who discovers that her 
husband has been having an affair with a nubile 
college student, an affair he tries, rather fatuously, to 
justify by quoting all the great ones who worshipped 
youth and beauty— like Dante and Shakespeare. To 
lay claim to the weaknesses of great ones without 
being able to transfigure them into a Divine Comedy 



being able to transfigure them into a Divine Comedy 
or Hamlet is, I think, an exercise in futility. The 
wife, played by Shirley MacLaine, decides to have it 
off (it can't be described more gracefully than that) 
with the carpenter who happens to be working in the 
house. She giggles a lot, and she has a lot of fun. The 
carpenter is an attractive hulk, but it is not a romance 
or a lasting passion, but more a roll in the hay, a 
one-day stand, as it were, and is done in large part to 
get even with her husband. In other words, the older 
woman is portrayed as merely reacting. to her hus- 
band. She has no strong identity or passion of her 
own, and above ail, while her husband is shown in 
classroom situations, i.e. working at a profession, 
Shirley MacLaine is invariably discovered giggling, 
tipsy, sitting around being rather bitchy and, in 
general, playing the adjunct role to her husband's 
professional and social life. She is never seen coping 
with anything, not even cooking or rearing a child— 
those acceptable occupations of women— let alone 
being involved in a profession. 

The young woman, played by Bo Derek, is every 
middle-aged man's fantasy come true— she has inflat- 
able breasts, a stomach sucked in so rigorously that it 
looks unnaturally concave as if she possessed no 
equipment which would accommodate a fetus, seem- 
ingly endless legs, and a face so perfect that she looks 
like a Barbie doll come to life. Besides having ail the 
physical attributes associated with popular and power- 
ful ideas of what constitutes perfection, she is also an 
ever willing and seemingly indefatigable bed partner 
who hero-worships her man. What could be more 
aphrodisiac to a slightly paunchy, slightly balding, 
middle-aged professor who knows he has probably 
reached the beginning of the end both professionally 
and sexually? The movie, to do it some justice, does 
present the man as the ineffectual cad that he is, and 
he is finally rejected by both women; but my point is 
that neither of the women comes across as a worth- 
while human being. 

What constitutes worth, in my eyes, is strength of 
character, a passion for, and response to, life. 
Strength of character can be manifested in many 
different ways but primarily, I think, through being 
able to cope with difficult situations which call for a 
certain amount of self-sacrifice and commitment, I 



7 



know that the concept of self-sacrifice sounds hope- 
lessly old-fashioned and alien in the contemporary 
context when the self has replaced God, country, and 
community as the object of worship. Self-fulfillment 
is often touted as the most desirable goal in life. But 
as long as we live among people, as long as we are 
required to work, and as long as we are responsible 
and committed to people we love, whether family or 
friends, a certain amount of willing suspension of 
self is necessary. This willingness to set aside one's 
own needs temporarily (I do not recommend a perm- 
anent self-abnegation— it smacks of self-righteous 
martyrdom) in the cause of one's vocation is a mark 
of maturity or adulthood, for only children are unable 
to put someone else's needs first— they have to be 
taught to do so. 

The willingness to put someone or something be- 
fore sell for a while is also a mark of passion without 
which life is not really a lived life hut 
mere existence. What is passion? I would 
like to define it as a deeply feeling and 
imaginative response to and interest in 
something beyond oneself — be it literary, 
artistic, or domestic endeavor. A pas- 
sionate interest in music or cooking is 
marked not by a desire to keep up with 
the Jones's, to show off and compete 
socially, but by an ability to be a part of 
one's endeavor, and by an ability to 
experience something profoundly and 
totally. Both the women, the wife of the 
professor and his adoring student, do 
not have this strength of character or 
passion for anything other than them- 
selves. They emerge as highly decorative 
appendages to the man's life and very little else. 

Admittedly, A Change of Seasons may be too 
slight a movie to be subjected to this kind of 
analysis, but Alan Alda's Four Seasons is a movie 
with semiserious intentions. Alda, the nice guy of 
movies, both in his appearance in the TV series 
M*A*S*H and in his support of the ERA, lias shown 
himself as something more than the usual plastic 
Hollywood idol. He is apparently a man capable of 
some serious thought and strong convictions, and for 
that reason his movie deserves to be taken seriously. 
In other words, there seems to be more to him than 
his attractive, limber body and toothpaste ad smile. 

The movie's subject, unusual for Hollywood, is the 
low-keyed one of friendship and Alda's main theme 
is that while friendship, like all other human rela- 
tionships, has its seasons, its buoyant spring and its 
winter of discontent, the important thing is to main- 
tain some sort of continuity of shared loyalty and 
commitment. A secondary theme seems to be a criti- 
cism of Alda's own favorite stance — one of cool. 




analytical detachment which makes him an admirably 
commonsenstcal companion, but also somewhat dis- 
tant and patronizing. 

The plot itself hinges on the disturbances caused in 
the relationship between three men and their wives 
who take their vacations together. The catalytic factor 
is the dumping of a wife of many years, played by 
Sandy Dennis, by her husband who predictably re- 
places her with a blonde stewardess young enough to 
be his daughter. 

Now, all the men in the movie have successful 
professions and they talk about them, besides doing 
all the little practical things like cooking, sailing a 
boat, etc., that have to be done on vacation. The 
wives, Carol Burnett, Rita Moreno, and Sandy Dennis, 
however, are shown sitting around like comely lounge 
lizards whose forked tongues flicker out periodically 
with acerbic barbs at their husbands. 

Since their children are grown up, 
they are not shown rearing children ei- 
ther. And only Sandy Dennis is shown 
having a hobby — photography — which 
she is in the danger of taking seriously, 
and for which she is laughed at by 
everybody. The other two don't seem to 
work at anything — jobs, children, or 
house — and Sandy, the only one who 
has an outside interest, is portrayed as a 
neurotic. Her pictures — we are shown 
close-ups of them — are endless shots of 
vegetables. Her interest in photography 
is reduced to an absurdity; thus the film 
disposes of the one woman with some 
interest outside of herself and her family. 
Move serious than this faux pas, is 
Alda's portrayal of the only young woman in the 
movie, the one who replaces Sandy Dennis. She is 
predictably blonde, blue-eyed, a sort of Cheryl Tiegs, 
Farrah Fawcett, Bo Derek all rolled into the exactly 
right proportions of breasts, teeth, hair, and unques- 
tioning, starry-eyed adoration of her middle-aged lov- 
er whose emotional and phy sical flabbiness she ob- 
ligingly fails to see. While the older women are 
consistently shown as idle and bitchy, this little girl 
is shown gurgling and cooing over her lover like a 
deranged turtledove. 

Of course, all the middle-aged men predictably 
start vying for her attention to a chorus of intensified 
bitchiness by the older women. There is a superbly 
choreographed soccer game played quite improbably 
but successfully against a background of Vivaldi's 
Four Seasons, which shows the men practically kill- 
ing themselves to demonstrate their vigor to the young 
girl. But more important and equally funny, while 
Carol Burnett, the most perceptive and honest of the 
wives, tells Alda exactly what she thinks of his ado- 
lescent behavior and flatly refuses to fuss over his 



8 



WAITING 
FOR THE 
TROLLEY 

by Miriam Leader 



Miriam Leader is a free-lance 
writer and photographer who 
works at the Institute for Ad- 
vanced Study in the Human- 
ities at the University of Massa- 
chusetts. 

<& 1981 Miriam Leader 



We stepped out of Molly's Bakery 
Between a day-old chocolate whoopee pie 
And a wrinkly Danish pastry 

You began to sprinkle your salt and peppered bird's-nest beard 
With bright yellow crumbs 

And the mother bird brushed them oil with her wing feathers 
We sauntered along the avenue looking 
For spring in the Last Elm Tree 
Thinking that Spring Street in Williamstown 
Is not a psychedelic deodorized heap 
Where you lose your face, and the money 
is pizazzed from your pocket by neon jazz 

We wait on the corner for ten minutes and nothing 
Happens at all. . . 

Hark! the trolley car is coming, Herb 

Hear tt go rattle-clang along the tracks 

Like the open car to the /,oo in Cincinnati, remembert 

Herb, get out there and wave it down 

Or they'll never stop for us. . . 

The motorman jumped the tracks in 1938 
We'll never see that trolley again. 
Never mind, here comes the bus 

Berkshire Regional Transit Authority, 18' long, 25* for old-timers 

Bumping along on Route 2 to North Adams, 
I'm scribbling this struggling poem 
While the old street-car driver 
Keeps one eye 

On the bumper crop of blondes. 



bruised knee, our young friend, of course, ministers 
to her lover who, she says, "loves to be babied." Can 
you imagine anything more unaesthetic and less ap- 
petizing than a middle-aged baby? 

The central point I want to make about both 
these movies is that beneath all the very enjoyable 
humour and zaniness, the characterization of the 
women is exceedingly cliched. The women in both 
the movies fall into two categories easily recognizable 
from myth and folklore: the young, beguiling virgin, 
Sleeping Beauty waiting to be woken by a kiss from 
the prince, the princess in the tower rescued by the 
hero-knight; and the older devouring woman, Medusa 
who turns men into stone, or the wicked witch cack- 
ling with malice towards all. In other words, both 
movies play variations on that old chestnut — women 
as angels or vixens. The ideal of physical and spiritual 
perfection is pitted against the specter of ugliness. 
The reality, of course, is different. Women, like men, 
come in varying shapes and sizes, carrying a mixed 



bag of good and evil — a mixture which is, I think, 
the distinguishing mark of all humanity. 

Now let us turn to the two French movies — The 
Last Metro and / Sent a Letter to My Love. The 
central characters in both movies, surprisingly, are 
neither men nor young women, but older women. 
One of them, the heroine of The Last Metro, played 
by Catherine Deneuve, is incomparably beautiful and 
elegant, but the other, the central character in / Sent 
a Letter to My Love is old and fat, with a face that 
looks, as a Time magazine critic put it, like an old 
duffel bag. What is remarkable about both these 
French films is that not only are women the focus of 
the movies but their outward appearance is of only 
peripheral interest. The women, in contrast to the 
one-dimensional women presented in the American 
movies, emerge as complex, highly intriguing, pas- 
sionate people who are valued not for how they look 
or because they embody an ideal of perfection, but for 
what they do, for the way they cope with life. 



9 



The Last Metro has a serious theme — the conditions 
of extreme hardship and (error under the Nazi occu- 
pation of Paris. The focus is not on political and 
economic conditions, however, but on the heroic 
straggles of an older woman who hides her Jewish 
husband in the cellar of the theatre in Montmartre of 
which he is a producer and director, and whose 
business she takes over. The woman is shown under 
three different kinds of extreme stress. First, she is 
continually harrassed by the Gestapo, who periodical- 
ly search the theatre. Second, her husband, brilliant, 
sensitive, under what virtually amounts to solitary 
confinement in the cellar undergoes a gradual per- 
sonality change, becoming irritable and irrational. 
Third, the woman, while deeply attached to and 
protective of her husband, falls in love with the 
young actor she has hired to play the lead in the play, 
and who she believes is a playboy. 

The woman, as Catherine Deneuve portrays her, is 
no superwoman. She is guilty of adulterous love, is 
accused by her coworkers of being too cold, too 
controlled, and indulges out of sheer frustration in a 
silly one-night stand. But all these are trivial and all 
too human flaws, compared to her poise, strength, 
and unflinching dedication to the safety of her hus- 
band and the theatre. She copes with every crisis, 
some comic, some tragic, with resource, charm, and 
strength. Her love for the young actor is no shallow 
self-indulgence either; it seems to be a genuinely 
passionate upsurge of all that is warm and alive 
within her. 

Now we come to the most sur- 
prising movie of all, a movie 
in which the central character is a 
woman who is over sixty, if a day, 
who is fat, with a face that indeed, 
in its pouches, shadows, and wrink- 
les, resembles an old duffel bag. The 
woman lives alone in a small house 
by the sea, caring for her younger 
brother, who, stricken by rickets 
since childhood, is confined to a 
wheelchair. The woman is torment- 
ed; at one point she even fantasizes 
about throwing her attractive but childishly selfish 
brother down a cliff. But her commitment to his 
welfare is absolute, and she is shown coping with the 
many crises that beset an invalid's life. Driven by her 
loneliness, she puts an ad in the personal column of the 
local newspaper asking for a companion, and when her 
brother replies, exposing his own loneliness and need, 
she decides to carry on a correspondence which calls 
upon all her ingenuity and strength. Beside the com- 
plexity of her feelings toward her brother and her 
passionate response to life, the pretty neighbor who 
visits with them regularly and who later marries the 
brother appears as a callow young fool. 




What both the French movies have, and the Ameri- 
can movies don't, is the image of a concept of beauty 
which is definable not by outward appearance but by 
inner worth. Both Catherine Deneuve and Simone 
Signoret come across as beautiful women not because 
they are "10" in looks, but because of the strength of 
their character and the depth of their passions. And — 
this is the important point — though they are by no 
means perfect, they are valued for their humanity and 
their passion. 

If 

Is' the skcond part of my talk I wish to ask some 
philosophical questions. Since philosophers from 
Plato onwards have been men with the leisure 
and freedom to speculate on finer issues, it is time 1 
think that we women, mellowed as we are now by 
good food and wine, indulged in a little philosophical 
speculation. My questions are: what or who deter- 
mines the ideal of perfection, especially physical per- 
fection? Who says that a certain cast, of features, a 
certain set of measurements, are the ideals we all 
should aspire to? And finally, is perfection a desirable 
goal to have? 

The eminent critic, Susan Sontag, has pointed out 
that ideas of beauty in every culture are inextricably 
tied up with economic status. For example, the an- 
cient Chinese considered long nails and small feet 
signs of beauty, because only aristocrats who did not 
have to work in the fields could afford to live with 
such nonfunctional appendages. In 
India a light complexion is valued 
because it proclaims the upper class- 
es who do not have to labor in the 
sun, In the West a tan speaks of the 
leisure to bask in the sun, or the 
money to afford sun lamps. In medi- 
eval and Renaissance Europe plump 
women were considered beautiful — 
witness Rubens's well-endowed wom- 
en — because only the poor were mal- 
nourished arid thin. Today only the 
superrich can afford to look under- 
nourished. It was the Duchess of 
Windsor, perhaps the epitome of vacuity, who is 
supposed to have said that one can never be too rich 
or too thin. 

Besides being tied to the law of filthy lucre, the 
ideal of perfection in beauty is, I submit, totally alien 
to nature. I remember once walking into the library 
at the University of Massachusetts and in the dim 
recesses finding a bowl of dark red roses which quite 
took my breath away. Then I had a vile suspicion. 
Were they so perfect, they could not be real? I walked 
up to them and touched them and, lo and behold, 
they were cold and plastic to the touch. If you notice, 
the gorgeous beauty of fall colors is the beauty of 



10 



imperfection— each leaf is scarred by frost and decay. 
The beauty of nature, whether in the seemingly care- 
less symmetry of falling snow or the breaking of 
foam on the sand, is the beauty not of perfection, but 
of rhythm, a repetition with innumerable, often un- 
predictable, variations. It is the beauty of flaws con- 
tained in the symmetry of rhythm. One has only to 
observe the beauty of the meanest wildflower— the 
humble and entirely intriguing and aptly named 
devil's paintbrush, lor instance — to realize that the 
fearful symmetry Blake sang about is fearful because 
it always hovers on the brink of a cosmic disorder 
and chaos. Perfection is en- 
tirely alien to the voracious 
life of nature; indeed total, 
immutable perfection be- 
speaks the inertness of 
death and artifice. 



all those features and flaws which make it individual 
and human and "made over" into images dreamed 
up by human computers. Indeed, many magazines go 
so far as to offer a package deal in which the reader 
fills out a form describing her features which is fed 
into a computer which in turn feeds the reader with 
details of how she should look, [ra Levins's novel 
The Stepford Wives is indeed prophetic. He depicts a 
group of suburban men quietly murdering their wives 
and replacing them with efficient, submissive, perfect 
robots. The lineal descendant of Frankenstein's mon- 
ster, then, is the Barbie doll whose bland face conceals 
a horror far greater than 
that of any easily identifi- 
able monster — the faceless 
conformity produced by the 
computer age. 



And that brings me to 
the connection I want 
to make between artifice 
and perfection, I believe 
that our culture imposes 
on both men and women, 

but more on women, an ideal of physical perfection 
which is an offshoot of the terrifying growth of 
technology. One has only to look at women's maga- 
zines to confirm this. Not an issue of Vogue, McCall's, 
and the others, passes by without carrying what they 
call "before and after" or "make over" pictures. Thai is, 
they take pictures of women before makeup experts 
have got to them, before too full lips have been made 
thinner, before the eyebrows have been tweezed and 
tortured into the perfect arch, before the face has been 
shaded or lightened to the "correct" proportions. Who 
determines what the correct proportions are? Who 
determines that the arch of an eyebrow is too high or 
loo low by the fraction of a millimeter, so that hundreds 
of women, bombarded by images of perfection in 
magazines and advertisements, tweezeand torture every 
hair on their eyebrows into the ideal shape? I believe 
that the ideal of perfection touted by thousands of 
magazines and advertisements has its origin in the 
ability of technology to create lifelike forms. It is the 
myth of Frankenstein reenacted in a blander and, 
therefore, much more insidious form. 

The prime example of technologically produced 
"perfect" form that immediately comes to mind is the 
Barbie doll — that plastic creature with perfect hair, 
perfect features, and perfect proportions which simu- 
lates almost everything except the mutability of life. If 
we look at the after "make over" pictures in magazines, 
and look around at women in supermarkets, it becomes 
obvious that life imitates art, even sucli travesty of art as 
the ubiquitous Barbie doll, the consummate product of 
artifice, of technology. All the strenuous efforts of 
women's magazines are directed towards achieving a 
plastic perfection w here the human face is ironed out of 




propose that we women 
actively resist all notions 
of perfection imposed on 
us from without, that we 
fight the vast army of dress 
designers, makeup and hair 
experts who tell what is 
right for us and at whose dictates women walk across 
an icy street in six inch heels courting assorted frac- 
tures. I am not, I want to make it clear, advocating a 
simple-minded back-to-naiure movement whose logi- 
cal end would be uncut nails and hair and unwashed 
faces. What I am proposing, instead, is the substitu- 
tion of an ideal of excellence for the ideal of perfec- 
tion. 

The ideal of excellence would require us to fulfill 
our potential as human beings to the fullest extent as 
determined by standards we set for ourselves. While 
the ideal of perfection is usually imposed from with- 
out, and is an abstract ideal quite arbitrarily formed, 
excellence would come from within as the culmin- 
ation of what each one of us is capable of. Excellence 
could become a Torm of aesthetics, an aesthetics in 
which there is no distinction between form and con- 
tent, between the way we look and the way we 
behave. Excellence would be a matter of the kind of 
harmony which we continually see demonstrated in 
nature in which the sea encompasses its vast energy 
and myriad life forms in a deep harmonic rhythm or 
the spectacular fail of New England is a matter of 
deeply flawed splendor of colors. While the ideal of 
perfection is necessarily cold and dualistic and, there- 
fore, restrictive, the ideal of excellence would take in 
the whole human being from the arch of an eyebrow 
to the performance of an action. The ideal of excel- 
lence is organic and vital and makes room for change — 
like life itself. 

Meera Clark, Assistant Professor of English, writes on 
Shakespeare and detective fiction. 



1 1 



Robert Bishoff on films 



Through a Lens Distortedly: The Personal Nature of the Movies 



Movies affect us like memories or, more pre- 
cisely still, like remembered dreams. They 
are impressions implanted on the mind to 
be recalled later, related to new, theretofore unrelated, 
experiences. Like memories or dreams remembered, 
movies — those we truly experience — are also organic. 
They grow and change, are reformed and reshaped each 
time they are replayed in the screening rooms of our 
minds. We relate to them because of who we are, and we 
become who we are, in part, because of how we relate to 
them. Returning to an old, remembered movie is like 
going back to a house remembered from childhood. It 
isn't the same; it's changed. But not really; celluloid 
and two-by-fours don't change, people do. Films 
revisited, recalled, examined, analyzed, are devices best 
used for measuring personal time and gr owth, experi- 
ence and change, values and emotions. 

It is a well-received sociological and aesthetic stance 
to see movies as having assumed that position in the 
culture once held by the novel. They are regarded as 
instruments used to "create and reflect public tastes, 
altitudes, and trends." Too often, however, the anal- 
ogous relationship between movies and novels, based 
on similarity of position, leads to an assumption of 
similarity of form and effect. This assumption, in turn, 
induces a tendency to apply to the movies the same 
analytical processes as are used to interpret and respond 
to prose. Few will employ the principles of dream 
interpretation in interpreting prose, but most will not 
hesitate to use the procedures of prose interpretation to 
interpret movies. When a dreamer interprets he is 
engaging in a primarily creative activity; whereas, 
when a reader i nterprets a piece of prose he is involved 
in an essentially analytical process. My contention is 
simply that when we engage in the act of interpreting 
movies we must recognize it as more a creative act than 
an analytical process. 

Movies are constructed of a series of still pictures 
projected on the screen at a rale of twenty-four 
frames per second. It is the viewer who creates the 
continuity, supplies the logic, and establishes the unity 
of these separate images. This act of creation forces the 
viewer to reach into himself, to his experiences, his 
associations, in order to form his finished film. The 
result must invariably be supersummative; the whole 
of a particular film experience is always greater than 
the sum of the parts provided within the film itself. 
Consequently, no two people ever see exactly the same 
film. 

Therefore, when we "tell what a movie was about," 
we are relating our own creation of a fluid, continuous, 
unified structure superimposed on a remembered 
dream. When a perceptive feminist recounts the plot of 



A Change of Seasons, for example, she might regard it 
as being "about the wife of a college professor who 
discovers that her husband has been having an affair 
with a nubile college student" in which the women 
"emerge as highly decorative appendages to the man's 
life and very little else." When, on the other hand, the 
same movie plot is recounted by a "slightly paunchy, 
slightly balding middle-aged professor," it might be- 
come a film aboul "the futility of middle-aged extra- 
marital flings in which only the wife emerges as a 
person worthy of any admiration." Who is right? 
Which viewer actually saw the movie? Whose dream 
remembered are we to believe? Or what about a third, 
equally perceptive, viewer's rendering of the plot of A 
Change of Seasons as simply "pure garbage"? 1 would 
contend that all three accounts are precise renderings of 
the films they created. I would, however, also contend 
that all three are inaccurate in relating what they saw. 

Tt we are to faithfully recount the content of a film, 
A whether it is good, bad, or mediocre, we must speak 
of something other than plot. If film, in form and 
effect, resembles any type of literature, it is poetry, not 
the novel. Poetry, too, 1 would contend, is like memories 
or remembered dreams. A poem, to quote Archibald 
MacLeish, "should not mean, but be." A poem com- 
municates not through plot but through images. "The 
Love Song of J . Alfred Prufrock" is not aboul what it is 
like to be old, or even what a nineteen-year-old T.S. 
Eliot thought it was like 10 be old. "Prufrock" is white 
flannel trousers and coffee spoons and mermaids 
singing. What we make of these images is ultimately 
what the poem means. Movies are images, and what we 
make of the images is ultimately what movies are 
about. Meaning in movies is not revealed through 
linear plot structure but through, for lack of a better 
phrase, concentric image reverberations. Images evoke 
associations which recall personal experiences which 
reverberate off other images, ultimately creating a 
unified, logical, fluid movie experience. 

Like memories, or dreams remembered, the fun of 
recalling and recounting movies we have seen derives 
from the self-discoveries we make through participa- 
tion in the creative process. The value gained from 
movie interpretaiion is primarily what we learn about 
our own values, emotions, experience, and change. 
The ultimate effect of movies, especially those we truly 
see, is that the images and their reverberations become a 
part of our accumulated experiences, thereby effecting 
in real ways who and what we are. 



Robert Bishoff, Assistant Professor of English, is a specialist 
in film and drama, 

The drawings in this issue are by Susan Morris of East 
Dover, Vermont. 



12